The Atlanta Falcons were not well represented in the 2020 edition of the NFL’s top 100 players list.
The Atlanta Falcons are not a popular franchise to cheer for and is often the butt of jokes around the league. So it’s easy to see why our top players get overlooked like they do. 2020 is no different as the NFL top 10 players list has slowly been unveiled and only three Falcons make the list.
Yes, only three. This isn’t to say that the Atlanta Falcons don’t see better representation in years prior, however, this year saw a much more dramatic shift in representation.
Notice anyone missing from that list? Maybe two or three players missing? Someone by the name of Matt Ryan, maybe Alex Mack, maybe a guy named Deion Jones? I’d be hard-pressed to not believe they aren’t apart of the NFL’s top 100 players.
But you know who is a top 100 player? Josh Allen. Kyler Murray. Ryan Tannehill. Kirk Cousins. I’m sure any fan with a pulse saw this list and were as stumped as the rest of us. There’s no need to throw around stats that prove Matt Ryan is better than the four aforementioned quarterbacks. It’s pointless because the players who make the list don’t take into account the quantitative or qualitative stats but more so view this list as a popularity contest.
Despite putting up more than 1,300 yards for the sixth consecutive season, Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones was snubbed from the top 10 by way of Deandre Hopkins and Michael Thomas.
Even with fewer receptions, Jones had a better year than Hopkins. A more than 200-yard total difference and an average of 15 yards per game difference separates the two receivers.
If you’re curious as to how the list is made, there’s even more evidence to show just how little players actually care about the list.
How the list is constructed
The list started in 2011 amidst the lockout during the off-season (results were obtained prior to the lockout) and has remained as an offseason staple on NFL Network to give fans a lot to complain about, all the while giving us more football content.
Is the list truly constructed by the players themselves? Yes, and kinda no. In 2013, ProFootball Talk reached out to NFL Network to try and get an explanation as to the makeup of the list and if it is truly done by the players.
A spokesperson for the network at the time responded by saying that all players are given the opportunity to participate in the list and that the ballots are sent out around Thanksgiving in efforts to make it more convenient for players since that’s around the time that the Pro Bowl ballots are being passed around.
In 2013, only 481 players voted on the top 100 list. That’s roughly 28.3 percent of all players who take part in the list. Nowhere near close enough to get an accurate understanding as to who the players feel are the best amongst their peers.
Also, it’s important to note that players don’t rank the full 100. They each rank their top 20 players and each spot gets a relative score. Voting someone as number one, they receive 20 points, and this carries on until the 20th player gets one point. Once voter fatigue sets in, that’s where you start naming players based on hype and potential as opposed to who truly is the best of the best.
Another flaw in the voting process is the timing in which the votes are cast. On top of an already poor amount of players participating, all ballots that are cast between the NFL playoffs and the NFL Draft will most likely feature players who are in the playoffs, no matter their true skill level.
That’s how Kirk Cousins found his way onto the list in place of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and I’m sure that’s the case for a lot of snubs, their team didn’t play an extra one to four games.
While this data was made from 2013, the 2020 rankings show that nothing has changed other than the fact that each year this list becomes less credible and players are just naming names just because. It would be nice if more players took this seriously and more than 28 percent of players participated.
All in all, it’s a popularity contest and the reason that, even at age 45, Tom Brady enters 2020 at 14 – the lowest he’s ever been. I wouldn’t mind this list being a popularity contest if the same wasn’t true for the Pro Bowl voting too.